The Old and the New
by Ana Iti for SCAPE Public Art Season 2017
Wellington-based artist Ana Iti (Ngāpuhi) has made a new work in response to the historical development and contemporary aspirations of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, using this site to explore the affect of inherited legacies. Botanic gardens serve many purposes: a protected green space in the centre of a city, a site for scientific research, a place for asserting a connection to and importance of another place (particularly key in gardens established during a period of colonisation), and a place for public recreation. They are evolving ecologies, reflecting the collecting imperatives and political and cultural conditions of decades and centuries past, as well as current thoughts and practices. Iti’s text work along the front of the Nursery building uses compiled fragments from an article written for Christchurch newspaper The Sun in 1915 and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Management plan, 2007. The resulting graphics, produced with designer Gemma Banks, highlight some aspirations for and challenges faced by the Gardens, including how native plants and trees have fared over its history. In doing so, The Old and the New highlights the politics and poetics of the Gardens as a ‘living museum,’ and the cultural construction of the way we understand and relate to nature in Aotearoa.
Ana Iti (Ngāpuhi, born 1989) graduated from Ilam School of Fine Arts with a BFA in 2012. Employing sculpture, spoken text and archival materials, Ana’s work often focuses on the colonial architecture of cities and the difficulties of trying to navigate a Māori identity through colonial and Western knowledge systems.
In 2016, Ana has undertaken residencies at Blue Oyster Art Project Space and the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (facilitated by The Physics Room). Recent exhibitions include Heavy to Hold, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Dunedin, 2016; and Golden Hour, Room Four, Christchurch 2014.